English saddle fit
 
 

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English saddle fit

This is a discussion on English saddle fit within the Horse Tack and Equipment forums, part of the Horse Tack category
  • Wintec wide gullet guide
  • How to find the right size english saddle for me

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    07-18-2012, 01:10 AM
  #1
Weanling
English saddle fit

Over 20 years ago, I bought a Collegiate event saddle, used it maybe 5 times, and then it got stolen. I have always ridden Western, and buying that saddle was my attempt to get into a more English style. After all this time, I'm finally back into the "I want to ride English" mindset. At this time, I'm in a majority Western riding area. I don't even know where to go to buy an English saddle, so I'm thinking of ordering one. I remember really liking my Collegiate, so I would like to stick with something similar. My question is, how do I determine what will fit my horse and me? He has really high withers, so I would need something that would accomodate that. Also, in a Western saddle I fit a 15" inch seat...how does that translate into English, is it the same? I feel so clueless. Eons ago, I just went to a saddle shop and they helped with all my questions and just showed me what I needed. I live in a different area now and there is no where to go. I really do feel like I'm starting from scratch again but I have no one to ask.
     
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    07-18-2012, 01:15 AM
  #2
Showing
Without trying the saddle on, you won't know if it will fit or not, sadly. I took a lovely Antares saddle on trial that I absolutely adored, it fit me like a glove... and broke my poor ol' heart when it didn't fit my horse! Some sites have demo saddles or will allow you to take a saddle on trial - that's your best bet, if you have to buy online.. otherwise, hang out at your local tack shop and keep your ears open for people looking to sell!
If you're riding in a 15" western saddle, generally you'll want to look at English saddles around 17"-17.5" -- HOWEVER!!!! I cannot stress this enough!!! English saddle size is determined mostly by the length of your femur; do NOT get stuck in a mindset of "smaller is better" or "ohmigod, I only fit 18" and bigger saddles!" I am not a big person and owned a saddle that was 18.5" ... it fit me because I have a very long femur.
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    07-18-2012, 11:02 AM
  #3
Weanling
I may just have to wait until my daugther starts school to take a day and go saddle shopping. I'm willing to bet that the closest place will be at least an hour away. I really don't like ordering saddles and such anyway, I like to feel the leather and see it with my own eyes. I'm just feeling really overwhelmed and out of my element right now, lol.
     
    07-18-2012, 01:13 PM
  #4
Green Broke
For your seat size, take a look at this webpage: The Right Saddle Size for You | SecondHandSaddlesHQ.com Someone else posted it on this forum recently and I found it to be fairly accurate for me. There is a bit of variation between brands, and a deeper seat may feel tighter, as well.

For horse sizing, see if you can find some who has a Wintec gullet gauge

It comes with the complete set of Wintec interchangeable gullets, or I believe it can also be purchased separately. It measured my horse as a med-wide, which my saddle fitter confirmed when she came to see my horse. I also spoke with a saddle maker over the phone who told me she found the Wintec sizes to be a little bit tight, so a borderline medium/MW Wintec might equate to a medium in some other saddle brands. This should at least give you an idea of where to start looking in terms of tree size

The shape of the tree (how curved it is, etc.) is a bit harder to evaluate. Without a saddle fitter, it can be a lot of trial and error!
     
    07-18-2012, 04:28 PM
  #5
Weanling
If you do end up ordering a saddle, SmartPak has a saddle test ride program for most of their saddles.

http://www.SmartPakEquine.com/testridesaddle.aspx
     
    07-18-2012, 06:09 PM
  #6
Yearling
Here are some seat size calculators.
English Saddle Seat Size Calculator

Saddle Sizing Info

There are several threads on this forum about fitting the saddle to your horse, both about tree sizing and general fitting. There's a sticky with "does your saddle really fit" with Schleese's 9 videos that's great.

Almost impossible to know that the saddle will fit the horse without putting it on the horse. Make sure whatever you buy will let you try and return if needed. You can get a good start though. Start with a wither-tracing. Use a flex-curve or clothes-hanger wire to get the profile of your horse about 2" behind the rear edge of the scapula. Lay it down on paper of cardboard and trace the shape. If the angle is about 90, you're somewhere around a medium tree. Bigger angle is on the wider side, smaller angle is on the narrower side. At least you'll know ballpark what you're looking for for you don't order a narrow saddle for a wide horse. If you're buying from someone knowledgable, you can send them your tracing and they can give you an idea of whether the saddle is a good match for you - at least on the tree size. Shape front-to-back is more difficult to size long-distance. You can always take a tracing of that as well and take it with you saddle-shopping.

Some saddles have a generously cutback pommel which makes fitting a high wither a little easier. I have an old Passier with a cutback pommel that gives the withers lots of room. Some saddles have a really closed, low pommel, which you might want to avoid.
     
    07-20-2012, 02:35 PM
  #7
Weanling
Lots of good info guys! I feel a bit more educated now and less "where/how do I start". Thanks :)
     
    07-21-2012, 09:33 AM
  #8
Yearling
Bear in mind all these things are only rough guides. For example, one of the seat size calculators told me I needed a 17" - fair enough but since I ride in a medium-depth tree (17.5 GP) I'd need a flatter tree shape to fit in the smaller seat.

IME the Wintec gauge is pretty accurate UNLESS your horse falls in behind the shoulder, when it tends to measure too narrow.

And also your femur length is a very minor consideration when choosing seat size compared with your height, build and the size of your horse. But some other posters here don't agree.

Like others have said there's really no substitute for actually sitting on the saddle on the horse. Best of luck :)
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    07-21-2012, 11:35 AM
  #9
Yearling
Quote:
Originally Posted by unclearthur    
Bear in mind all these things are only rough guides. For example, one of the seat size calculators told me I needed a 17" - fair enough but since I ride in a medium-depth tree (17.5 GP) I'd need a flatter tree shape to fit in the smaller seat.


And also your femur length is a very minor consideration when choosing seat size compared with your height, build and the size of your horse. But some other posters here don't agree.
Yes! These are guides to give you a ballpark idea of where to start. They're not exact my any means. The seat size calculators tell me I need an 18", and I usually use a 17.5 .

Unclearthur, the explanation you gave a few days ago of why the seat size actually does reflect the butt-size rather than the femur length was excellent. I've always heard that it's all about the femur length, and your insight made a lot of sense. It does explain why all calculators say I need an 18, and I really use a 17.5 - long legs, flatter butt.
I think much of the reason why we're always told that it's about femur length has to do with the fact that most saddles only come with 1 flap size/length. Ideally, with lots of saddles available and cost no concern, we would size the seat to our butts, then find the correct flap for the leg. Most of us end up trying to find a saddle that will accommodate both as-is (especially since we're also trying to fit the horse - so many variables), so we're often having to go up or down 1/2 a seat size to get a flap that will work for our build. I notice the seat-size calculators measure from the back of the butt to the front of the kneecap, so they seem to be trying to get an estimate based on a combined butt/femur size.
I'm curious what your opinion is on the stirrup-bar location for various build types. It seems like if someone has a larger build, but really short legs, then ideally they would have a seat on the larger size to fit their butt. Do you find that in that case the stirrup bar ends up being too far forward for the legs, resulting in a chair seat? Or does the hip joint on a larger body in a larger seat generally end up being in the correct position above the stirrup bar? Just trying to learn...
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    07-21-2012, 05:12 PM
  #10
Yearling
Quote:
Originally Posted by freia    
I'm curious what your opinion is on the stirrup-bar location for various build types. It seems like if someone has a larger build, but really short legs, then ideally they would have a seat on the larger size to fit their butt. Do you find that in that case the stirrup bar ends up being too far forward for the legs, resulting in a chair seat? Or does the hip joint on a larger body in a larger seat generally end up being in the correct position above the stirrup bar? Just trying to learn...
A good point. I learn something new every time I try a saddle on a different horse. This morning's lesson was that while I can flock a saddle to make a pony comfortable enough to stop refusing jumps, frustratingly I can't always get it to stay level when said pony has a physical problem making it very one-sided

Anyway, I always used to think the stirrup bar position would be a big issue. Like you say, with longer seats it is proportionally further forward of the mid-point. But in practice I've rarely found it a problem.

I think you're just about right. Because we all carry more soft tissue behind the skeleton than in front those with a large build will naturally sit slightly forward of the mid-point of the seat, virtually negating the effect of a more forward stirrup bar. I'm talking GP/AP saddles here which form the vast majority of my business.

Dressage saddles are sometimes a bit different. A lot (even well-known brands) don't have the stirrup bar fitted far enough back which can cause balance problems, for even a petite rider, with long stirrups. Jumping saddles (forward-fitted bar) don't cause the same issues because riders are out of the saddle much of the time.

Hope that makes sense
     

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